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Publication numberUS9104256 B2
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 14/599,176
Publication dateAug 11, 2015
Filing dateJan 16, 2015
Priority dateMay 14, 2010
Also published asUS8974620, US9128545, US9471163, US20110279383, US20130209752, US20150013891, US20150132522, US20150177863, US20150309609
Publication number14599176, 599176, US 9104256 B2, US 9104256B2, US-B2-9104256, US9104256 B2, US9104256B2
InventorsStephen S. Wilson, Bart Wilson, Seth Wilson
Original AssigneeRacing Optics, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Touch screen shield
US 9104256 B2
Abstract
A shield that is attachable to a touch sensitive screen is disclosed. The shield may be attached to the touch sensitive screen only at its outer peripheral portion. An air gap is enclosed between the shield and the touch sensitive screen to form a planar air bearing. The shield preferably does not touch the active area of the touch sensitive screen when the user is not touching the shield but only viewing the touch sensitive screen through the shield. This mitigates unwanted optical artifacts such as trapped air bubbles, Newton rings and chromatic interference while maintaining the sensitivity of the touch sensitive screen.
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Claims(23)
What is claimed is:
1. A method for protecting a touch screen of an electronic device having a front face that includes a touch screen portion and an outer perimeter, which method comprises:
providing a touch screen protector comprising a film having front and back sides, an outer perimeter that essentially corresponds to the outer perimeter of the touch screen of the front face of the device, and a transparent window that essentially corresponds in size to that of the touch screen portion; a spacer provided on the back side of the film along the outer perimeter thereof and continuously surrounding the transparent window so as to trap air between the film and the touch screen portion with the spacer having a thickness sufficient to space the film near but not in contact with the touch screen; an exposed adhesive on one side of the spacer that faces the touch screen, with the exposed adhesive having sufficient adhesiveness to mount the touch screen protector onto the touch screen; and a joining adhesive for adhering the spacer to the back side of the film; and
removably attaching the touch screen protector upon the touch screen of the device via the exposed adhesive to form a space between the transparent window of the film, the spacer and the touch screen portion of the device.
2. A method for protecting a touch sensitive screen of an electronic device with a shield, the touch sensitive screen having an active area and an inactive area, the method comprising:
removing at least a portion of a protective liner from the shield to expose an adhesive applied about an outer periphery of the shield;
aligning the shield so that the outer periphery of the shield is positioned over the inactive area of the touch sensitive screen; and
applying pressure to the outer periphery of the shield so that the adhesive attaches the shield to the touch sensitive screen,
wherein at least a portion of the attached shield is lifted off the active area of the touch sensitive screen, and wherein air is trapped between the attached shield, the active area of the touch sensitive screen, and the adhesive.
3. The method of claim 2, wherein the adhesive applied about the outer periphery of the shield has a thickness sufficient to lift the attached shield off the active area of the touch sensitive screen.
4. The method of claim 2, wherein the shield comprises a base layer and an annular film layer applied about an outer periphery on an underside of the base layer, the adhesive being applied on an exposed surface of the annular film, and wherein the annular film and the adhesive have a combined thickness sufficient to lift the attached shield off the active area of the touch sensitive screen.
5. The method of claim 2, wherein the wherein the removing step includes removing an outer peripheral portion of the protective liner from the shield to expose the adhesive and to create a step between a remaining portion of the protective liner and a base layer, and wherein attaching the shield to the touch sensitive screen applies tension to the base layer, the tension causing at least a portion of the shield to lift off the active area of the touch sensitive screen.
6. A combination touch screen device and protective shield, the combination comprising:
a touch sensitive screen for an electronic device, the touch sensitive screen comprising an active area and an inactive area; and
a shield having an adhesive layer surrounding a central portion of the shield, the adhesive being applied only to the inactive area so that no part of the shield contacts the active area of the touch sensitive screen, the shield being mounted to the touch sensitive screen via the adhesive layer so that the central portion of the shield covers at least a portion of the active area of the touch sensitive screen,
wherein the shield is mounted to the touch sensitive screen so that the central portion of the shield is lifted off the touch sensitive screen and so that air is trapped between the shield, the touch sensitive screen, and the adhesive layer, and wherein the shield is further mounted to the touch screen device so that the active area of the electronic device maintains touch sensitivity through the mounted shield.
7. The combination touch screen device of claim 6, wherein the trapped air forms a continuous and planar air bearing between the central portion of the shield and the active portion of the touch sensitive screen.
8. The combination touch screen device of claim 6, wherein the shield further comprises a liner layer attached to an interior side of a base layer, the liner layer having an outer periphery smaller than an outer periphery of the base layer so as to form a step between the interior side of the base layer and the liner layer, wherein the step places the base layer into tension, and wherein the tension lifts the central portion of the shield off the touch sensitive screen.
9. The combination touch screen device of claim 6, wherein the adhesive layer is sufficiently thick so that the central portion of the attached shield lifts off the touch sensitive screen.
10. The combination touch screen device of claim 6, wherein the shield comprises a base layer and an annular film layer between the base layer and the adhesive layer, the annular film layer surrounding the central portion of the shield, wherein a combined thickness of the annular film layer and the adhesive layer lifts the central portion of the attached shield off the touch sensitive screen.
11. The combination touch screen device of claim 6, wherein the adhesive layer is attached primarily about the inactive area of the touch sensitive screen so that an air gap exists between the shield and a majority of the active area of the touch sensitive screen.
12. A method for protecting a touch sensitive screen of an electronic device, the touch sensitive screen defining a shape having an active area and an inactive area, the method comprising:
providing a shield having a base layer defining a shape that corresponds to the shape of the touch sensitive screen, the base layer having a central portion that corresponds to the active area of the touch sensitive screen and an outer peripheral portion that corresponds to the inactive area of the touch sensitive screen, the shield further having a pressure sensitive adhesive layer disposed about at least a portion of the outer peripheral portion;
aligning the shield over the touch sensitive screen so that the pressure sensitive adhesive layer is positioned over the inactive area of the touch sensitive screen; and
applying pressure around the outer peripheral portion of the shield to secure the shield to the touch sensitive screen so that at least a portion of the central portion of the attached shield is lifted off the touch sensitive screen,
wherein the applying pressure around the outer peripheral portion of the shield traps air between the attached shield, the active area of the touch sensitive screen, and the pressure sensitive adhesive layer.
13. The method of claim 12, wherein the base layer is formed from a flexible material.
14. The method of claim 12, wherein the trapped air forms a continuous planar air bearing between the central portion of the shield and the active area of the touch sensitive screen.
15. The method of claim 12, wherein the active area of the touch sensitive screen maintains touch sensitivity through the attached shield.
16. The method of claim 12, wherein the step of providing a shield comprises applying the pressure sensitive adhesive about the outer peripheral portion of the shield such that the pressure sensitive adhesive has a thickness that causes the central portion of the shield to lift off of the touch sensitive screen.
17. The method of claim 12, wherein the shield further comprises a protective liner attached to an underside of the base layer, wherein the pressure sensitive adhesive is applied between the base layer and the protective liner.
18. The method of claim 17, wherein the protective liner has a central portion corresponding to the central portion of the base layer and an outer peripheral portion corresponding to the outer peripheral portion of the base layer, further comprising the step of removing the outer peripheral portion of the protective liner from the base layer to expose the pressure sensitive adhesive layer and to form a step between the base layer and the attached central portion of the protective liner, wherein during the step of applying pressure around the outer peripheral portion of the shield, the step places the base layer into tension, and wherein the tension causes the central portion of the shield to lift off the touch sensitive screen.
19. The method of claim 12, wherein the shield further comprises an annular layer interposed between the outer peripheral portion of the base layer and the pressure sensitive adhesive layer, wherein the annular layer and the pressure sensitive adhesive layer have a combined thickness sufficient to lift the central portion of the attached shield off the touch sensitive screen.
20. The method of claim 19, wherein the annular layer is formed from a film material.
21. The method of claim 19, wherein the annular layer is formed from an opaque material to hide air bubbles between the shield and the touch sensitive screen when the shield is attached to the touch sensitive screen.
22. The method of claim 12, wherein the shield comprises an opaque border printed about the outer peripheral portion of the base layer.
23. The method of claim 12, wherein the inactive area of the touch sensitive screen comprises at least one of a physical button and a speaker, and wherein the shield further comprises at least one cutout that corresponds to the physical button or speaker.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a continuation patent application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/838,311, filed on Mar. 15, 2013, which is a divisional patent application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/780,443, filed on May 14, 2010, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

STATEMENT RE: FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH/DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates to transparent films applied to touch sensitive screens for impact and/or scratch protection.

Electronic devices such as the iPhone have a touch sensitive screen by which the user may operate the electronic device. The touch sensitive screen displays electronic buttons and search boxes that the user can select by touch. These touch sensitive screens are very large and subject to cracking and scratching during normal use by the user as well as when the electronic device is dropped. The resulting damage may be costly to repair and may require replacement of the entire electronic device or phone. Accordingly, there is a need for a low cost device that will cushion and absorb an impact that could break or scratch the glass face of the electronic device and yet not interfere with the functionality and sensitivity of the touch screen or the quality of the image displayed on the screen.

Prior art films do exist that are adhered to the touch sensitive screen. Unfortunately, these protective films leave unsightly air bubbles between the transparent protective film and the transparent glass of the electronic device. Moreover, these films provide no impact absorption protection to the glass face.

Based on the foregoing, there is a need in the art for an improved protective film for touch sensitive screens.

BRIEF SUMMARY

The touch screen shield disclosed herein addresses the needs discussed above, discussed below and those that are known in the art.

The touch screen shield disclosed herein may comprise a base transparent layer that is attached to a touch sensitive screen of an electronic device. A planar air bearing may be formed between the base transparent layer and the touch sensitive screen by attaching only the outer peripheral portion of the base transparent layer to the touch sensitive screen. The air gap may be continuous and planar between the base transparent layer and the touch sensitive screen by adhering a protective liner to the underside of the base transparent layer. The protective liner has an outer periphery which is smaller than the outer periphery of the base transparent layer so as to form a step. When the outer peripheral portion of the base transparent layer is adhered to the touch sensitive screen, the base transparent layer is placed into tension by the step thereby lifting the protective liner above and off of the touch sensitive screen. Additionally, the adhesive surrounding the base transparent layer forms an enclosed air gap and traps air between the base transparent layer and the touch sensitive screen. These factors promote formation of the planar air bearing between the base transparent layer and the touch sensitive screen.

The air gap between the base transparent layer and the touch sensitive screen may also be formed by forming a thick adhesive layer at the outer peripheral portion of the base transparent layer. The adhesive is sufficiently thick so that the base transparent layer is lifted off of the touch sensitive screen when the touch screen shield is mounted to the electronic device.

It is also contemplated that in any of the embodiments discussed herein of the shield, one or more sacrificial layers may be mounted on top of the base transparent layer. The sacrificial layers may be removed one at a time from top to bottom as the top most sacrificial layer is damaged. The additional layers provide additional impact protection and retains flexibility so that touch sensitivity of the touch sensitive screen is not compromised.

It is also contemplated that the shield may be formed with an opaque border (e.g., black, pattern, etc.) to hide air bubbles that might form between the outer peripheral portion of the base transparent layer and the touch sensitive screen.

More particularly, a transparent shield for a touch sensitive screen of a device is disclosed. The shield may comprise a first transparent layer, a thin layer of pressure sensitive adhesive and a second transparent layer. The first transparent layer may define opposed first and second sides. The first transparent layer may also define an outer periphery. The thin layer of pressure sensitive adhesive may be disposed on an outer peripheral portion of the second side of the first transparent layer. The second transparent layer may define opposed first and second sides. The first side of the second transparent layer may be attached to a central portion of the second side of the first transparent layer. An outer periphery of the second transparent layer may be smaller than the outer periphery of the first transparent layer so as to define a step.

The outer peripheral portion of the first transparent layer may be attached to the device so that the central portion of the second side of the first transparent layer is positioned on top of the touch sensitive screen of the device. The first transparent layer may be placed in tension when the outer peripheral portion of the first transparent layer is attached to the device.

The shield may further comprise adhesive disposed between the central portion of the second side of the first transparent layer and the second transparent layer for attaching the first and second transparent layer to each other. The adhesive disposed on the outer peripheral portion of the second side of the first transparent layer may be protected by a removable liner. The adhesive may form an enclosed air gap between the shield and touch sensitive screen. The enclosed air gap may form a planar air bearing.

The shield may further comprise one or more transparent sacrificial layers peelably removable from each other and the first side of the first transparent layer so that a top most sacrificial layer may be removed as desired. The first and second transparent layers may be thicker compared to the one or more sacrificial layers. The sacrificial layers may have staggered tabs for assisting in the peeling of the top most sacrificial layer. A peel value between the sacrificial layers may be progressively stronger as the top most sacrificial layer is peeled away.

The adhesive and the first and second transparent layers may have a difference in index of refraction less than 0.2.

The shield may further comprise an opaque annular film at an outer peripheral portion of the first transparent layer.

Moreover, a transparent shield for a touch sensitive screen of a device is disclosed. The shield may comprise a first transparent layer and a pressure sensitive adhesive. The first transparent layer may define opposed first and second sides. The pressure sensitive adhesive may be disposed only at an outer peripheral portion of the second side of the first transparent layer. The pressure sensitive adhesive may be sufficiently thick so as to form an air gap between the first transparent layer and the touch sensitive screen when the shield is mounted to the electronic device. The air gap may be a planar air bearing.

The outer peripheral portion of the first transparent layer may be attached to the device so that the central portion of the second side of the first transparent layer is positioned on top of the touch sensitive screen of the device.

The shield may further comprise one or more transparent sacrificial layers peelably removable from each other and the first side of the first transparent layer so that a top most sacrificial layer may be removed as desired.

The shield may further comprise an opaque annular film at an outer peripheral portion of the first transparent layer.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features and advantages of the various embodiments disclosed herein will be better understood with respect to the following description and drawings, in which like numbers refer to like parts throughout, and in which:

FIG. 1 is an exploded top view of an electronic device with a shield mountable thereon;

FIG. 2 is a cross sectional view of the shield shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a cross sectional view of the shield mounted to the electronic device shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view of a second embodiment of the shield shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a cross sectional view of the second embodiment of the shield and the electronic device shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a top view of the electronic device shown in FIG. 1 with a shield having an opaque border for hiding air bubbles;

FIG. 7 is a cross sectional view of a first embodiment of a shield with an opaque border attached to the electronic device shown in FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a cross sectional view of a second embodiment of a shield with an opaque border attached to the electronic device shown in FIG. 6;

FIG. 9 is a top view of a stack of sacrificial layers with tabs for peeling a topmost layers, the stack being mountable to the shield shown in FIGS. 1-8;

FIG. 10 is a top view of a stack of sacrificial layers with a stair step configuration for peeling a topmost layer, the stack being mountable to the shield shown in FIGS. 1-8;

FIG. 11A is a cross sectional view of the stair step shown in FIG. 10; and

FIG. 11B is an alternative arrangement to the stair step shown in FIG. 11A.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now to the drawings, a shield 10 for a touch sensitive screen 12 is shown. The shield 10 protects the touch sensitive screen 12 from scratches, impacts, etc. The shield 10 is damaged instead of the touch sensitive screen 12. When the shield 10 is scratched, dented, etc. to a degree that makes viewing the touch sensitive screen 12 unacceptable for the user, the shield 10 may be replaced with a new shield 10. Optionally, the shield 10 may have one or more sacrificial layers 14 which may be individually peeled off from each other starting from the top most layer going down to the base shield 10 as the top most sacrificial layer 14 is damaged. The sacrificial layers 14 a-h may be mounted on top of the shield 10, 10 a. When the shield 10 is attached to the touch sensitive screen 12, an air gap 16 (see FIG. 3) may be formed between the shield 10 and an active area 18 of the touch sensitive screen 12. The air gap 16 eliminates unwanted optical artifacts such as trapped area bubbles, Newton rings and chromatic interference while maintaining the sensitivity of the touch sensitive screen 12.

The air gap 16 may be formed by providing a base transparent layer 20 which defines an exposed side 22 and an interior side 24 (see FIG. 3). The interior side 24 may be coated with a pressure sensitive adhesive 26 (e.g., acrylic adhesive). The pressure sensitive adhesive 26 may cover the entire interior side 24 of the base transparent layer 20. A protective liner 28 may cover the pressure sensitive adhesive 26 coated on the interior side 24 and be attached to the protective liner 28. When the shield 10 is ready to be mounted to the touch sensitive screen 12, an outer peripheral portion 30 (see FIG. 2) or annulus of the protective liner 28 may be removed from the base transparent layer 20 to expose the adhesive 26 only at the outer peripheral portion of the base transparent layer 20 on the interior side 24. A step 27 (see FIGS. 2 and 3) is formed at the outer peripheral edge of the protective liner 28. The shield 10 may be attached to the touch sensitive screen 12 as shown in FIG. 3. More particularly, the entire outer periphery of the base transparent layer 20 may be adhered to the touch sensitive screen 12 so as to form an enclosed air gap 16 and form a planar air bearing. The base transparent layer 20 is tensioned about the step 27. Since an interior side 32 (see FIG. 3) of the protective liner 28 does not have any adhesive, a continuous air gap 16 may be formed between the protective liner 28 and the exposed side 34 of the touch sensitive screen 12.

Alternatively, a base transparent layer 20 a may be provided with an adhesive 26 a only on the outer peripheral portion 36 of the base transparent layer 20 a, as shown in FIG. 4. The shield 10 may be attached to the touch sensitive screen 12 by way of the adhesive 26 a, as shown in FIG. 5. The adhesive 26 a may be sufficiently thick such that upon adhesion of the base transparent layer 20 a to the touch sensitive screen 12, air gap 16 a is formed, as shown in FIG. 5.

Moreover, it is contemplated that an opaque film 52 (see FIGS. 6-8) may be disposed at the outer peripheral portion 36 of the base transparent layer 20 to hide any air bubbles 60 that might form between the outer peripheral portion 36 of the base transparent layer 20 and the touch sensitive screen 12.

More particularly, referring now back to FIG. 1, an electronic device 38 such as an iPhone is shown. It is also contemplated that the electronic device 38 may be any type of visual display for photographs, video, etc. The electronic device 38 may have a touch sensitive screen 12 which allows a user to operate the electronic device 38. The touch sensitive screen 12 may define an active area 18. In the active area 18, the user may depress various electronic buttons, keys, etc. electronically displayed on the active area 18 to operate the electronic device 38 so as to play video, navigate, start applications, etc. The active area 18 may be disposed adjacent or enclosed within an inactive area 42.

The active area 18 of the touch sensitive screen 12 may be protected by disposing the shield 10 over the touch sensitive screen 12. To this end, the shield 10 may be adhered to the touch sensitive screen 12 wherein only the outer peripheral portion of the shield 10 is adhered to the touch sensitive screen 12. A continuous air gap 16 may exist between the central portion 44 of the shield 10 and the touch sensitive screen 12. Preferably, the adhesive 26 used to adhere the outer peripheral portion of the shield 10 to the touch sensitive screen 12 contacts only the inactive area 42. However, it is also contemplated that the adhesive 26 may adhere the shield 10 also to an outer peripheral portion of the active area 18.

Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3, the shield 10 may comprise the base transparent layer 20. The base transparent layer 20 may be fabricated from a transparent material (e.g., biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephalate material (boPET), etc.). The base transparent layer 20 may be approximately 4 mil thick (i.e., 0.004″). Adhesive 26 may be coated on a majority, if not the entire, interior side 24 of the base transparent layer 20. To protect the adhesive 26 from dirt and grime prior to installation on the touch sensitive screen, the protective liner 28 may cover the entire interior side 24 of the base transparent layer 20. The adhesive 26 attaches the protective liner 28 to the base transparent layer 20. A cut or slit 46 may be made through the protective liner 28 so as to define an outer peripheral portion 30 or annulus of the protective liner 28 and a central portion 48 of the protective liner 28. The cut or slit 46 may be made with a rotary die, steel rule die, lasers or other methods known in the art.

When the user is ready to attach the shield 10 to the touch sensitive screen 12 of the electronic device 38, the user removes the outer peripheral portion 30 of the protective liner 28 from the shield 10 as shown in FIG. 2. For example, the user may apply a small piece of tape to the outer peripheral portion 30 and peel the outer peripheral portion 30 off of the base transparent layer 20. This exposes the adhesive 26 only at the outer peripheral portion 36 of the base transparent layer 20. This also creates the step 27 between the protective layer 28 still remaining on the base transparent layer 20 and the base transparent layer 20. The user aligns the shield 10 to the touch sensitive screen 12 and applies pressure to the outer peripheral portion 36 of the base transparent layer 20 so that the adhesive 26 adheres the base transparent layer 20 to the touch sensitive screen 12. Preferably, the adhesive 26 is disposed only on the inactive area 42 of the touch sensitive screen 12. The adhesive 26 traps air between the base transparent layer 20 and the touch sensitive screen 12 to form the enclosed air gap 16. Also, the air gap 16 (see FIG. 3) may define a planar air bearing due to tension applied to the base transparent layer 20 about the step 27. The enclosed air gap 16 and the tension lifts the shield 10 off of active area 18 to form a planar air bearing to mitigate unwanted optical artifacts such as trapped air bubbles, Newton rings, and chromatic interference while maintaining the sensitivity of the touch screen. It is also contemplated that the adhesive 26 may be disposed on a portion of the active area 18 at the outer peripheral portion of the active area 18. In this manner, a majority of the active area 18 has an air gap 16 between the touch sensitive screen 12 and the shield 10.

Optionally, the shield 10 may have one or more sacrificial layers 14 a-n. The sacrificial layers 14 may be adhered to each other by way of a peelable adhesive disposed between each of the sacrificial layers 14 as well as a bottommost sacrificial layer 14 a and the exposed side 22 of the base transparent layer 20. During use of the electronic device 38, the topmost sacrificial layer 14 c may become dented, scratched, etc. or otherwise damaged such that viewing through the shield 10 may be unacceptable. At this point, the topmost sacrificial layer 14 c may be removed (e.g., peeled) from the shield 10. This uncovers a fresh, clean sacrificial layer 14 b. The other sacrificial layers 14 b and 14 a may be removed top-down as the topmost sacrificial layer 14 becomes damaged. There may be one or more sacrificial layers 14 a-n or stack of sacrificial layers 14 a-n adhered to the base transparent layer 20. Preferably, there are between two (2) to ten (10) sacrificial layers 14 a-n. The sacrificial layers 14 a-n may be fabricated from a transparent material such as biaxially-oriented polyethelene terephalate (boPET).

Referring now to a second embodiment shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, a shield 10 a may comprise base transparent layer 20 a. A thick coat of adhesive 26 a may be applied only to the underside of the outer peripheral portion 36 a of the base transparent layer 20 a. Protective liner 28 a may be placed over the thick adhesive coating 26 a to protect the adhesive 26 a from dirt and grime up until prior to installation of the shield 10 a to the touch sensitive screen 12. After removing the protective liner 28 a from the shield 10 a, the shield 10 a is aligned to the touch sensitive screen 12. In particular, the adhesive 26 a is preferably aligned to the inactive area 42 of the touch sensitive screen. Air gap 16 a is formed between the base transparent layer 20 a and the touch sensitive screen 12. The thick adhesive 26 a lifts the base transparent layer 20 a off of the active area 40 to form the planar air bearing, as shown in FIG. 5.

Optionally, one or more sacrificial layers 14 a-n as discussed above in relation to FIGS. 2 and 3 may be mounted to the shield 10 a. The sacrificial layers 14 a-n may be removed one by one as the topmost sacrificial layer is damaged (e.g., dented, scratched, etc.).

Referring now to FIGS. 6-8, an opaque annular film 52 may be interposed between the outer peripheral portion 36 of the base transparent layer 20, 20 a and the touch sensitive screen 12. The opaque annular film 52 may be incorporated into the shields 10, 10 a discussed in relation to FIGS. 2-5. The opaque annular film 52 may be black, dark color, patterned, etc. so long as the pattern or color hides or mitigates visibility of air bubbles 60. The opaque transparent layer 52 hides any air bubbles 60 that may exist when attaching the shield 10, 10 a to the touch sensitive screen 12. FIG. 6 illustrates a black border. However, upon further inspection of the border area in FIGS. 7 and 8, an air bubble 60 exists between the shield 10, 10 a and the touch sensitive screen 12. Nonetheless, due to the opaque annular film 52, such air bubble 60 is not noticeable or is not as noticeable when viewing the touch sensitive screen 12.

More particularly, referring now to FIG. 7, the shield 10 a may have an adhesive 26 b disposed about the outer peripheral portion 36 of the base transparent layer 20 b. The opaque annular film 52 may be attached to the base transparent layer 20 b by way of the adhesive 26 b. Adhesive 54 may now be coated, sprayed or disposed onto the bottom surface of the opaque annular film 52 for attachment of the shield 10 a to the touch sensitive screen 12. The adhesive 26 b may be thin so as to not appreciably add to the thickness of the base transparent layer 20. Alternatively, the adhesive 26 b or 54 may be thick such as in the embodiment disclosed in FIGS. 4-5. Nonetheless, the film 52 and/or the adhesive 26 b, 54 may independently or collectively be sufficiently thick so that the air gap 16 a may be formed between the shield 10 a and the touch sensitive screen 12.

Sacrificial layers 14 a-n may be stacked on top of the base transparent layer 20 a as discussed above in relation to FIGS. 2-5.

Referring now to FIG. 8, the shield 10 may also have an opaque annular film 52. The opaque annular film 52 may be disposed at the outer peripheral portion 36 of the base transparent layer 20. Preferably, the opaque annular film 52 and the adhesive 26, 54 is thinner than the protective liner 28, and more particularly, is thinner than the central portion 48 of the protective liner 28. The step 27 is formed at the outer peripheral edge of the protective liner 28. The opaque annular film 52 shown in FIG. 8 is attached to the base transparent layer 20 by way of adhesive 26. Adhesive 54 may be applied to the underside of the opaque annular film 52 to attach the shield 10 to the touch sensitive screen 12. Sacrificial layers 14 a-n may also be stacked on top of the base transparent layer 20 as discussed above in relation to FIGS. 2-5.

An index of refraction of the adhesive and the transparent material which forms the sacrificial layers 14 a-n, base transparent layer 20 and the protective liner 28 may have a refraction mismatch of 0.2 to minimize unwanted internal reflection, haze, maximize transmissions and contrast of the screen and to maintain the high brightness and contrast of the visual objects displayed on the touch sensitive screen 12. It is also contemplated that the upper surface of each of the sacrificial layers 14 and the exposed side 22 of the base transparent layer 20 may have a thin hard coating. The adhesive that attaches each of the sacrificial layers 14 together as well as the stack of sacrificial layers 14 to the base transparent layer 20 may be provided so that the peel strength is the same throughout the stack. Alternatively, the bottom most layer 14, 20 may have a higher peel value than the layers 14 above the bottom most layer 14, 20. In this manner, as the topmost sacrificial layer 14 is peeled from the lower sacrificial layers 14, the act of peeling the topmost sacrificial layer 14 does not also peel the lower sacrificial layers 14. The peel strength may range between about 25 to about 300 grams/inch. The adhesive discussed herein may be permanently attached to the layer immediately above the adhesive. Accordingly, when the topmost sacrificial layer 14 is peeled, no residue of the adhesive is left on the layer below. The exposed or top side of the fresh sacrificial layer 14 mostly, if not entirely is free from adhesive. Additionally, when all of the sacrificial layers 14 are removed from the shield 10, no adhesive residue is left on the exposed side 22 of the base transparent layer 20.

Each of the sacrificial layers 14, base transparent layer 20 and the protective layer 28 may have a thickness between about 1 mil to about 7 mil with each mil being 0.001″ thick. Unless otherwise stated, the adhesive layer attaching the sacrificial layers 14 to each other as well as the sacrificial layers 14 to the base transparent layer 20 may add negligible thickness to the shield 10, 10 a. By way of example and not limitation, if each of the sacrificial layers 14, the base transparent layer 20 and the protective layer 28 have a thickness of 2 mil, then the total thickness of the shield 10 may be 8 mil thick provided that there are only two sacrificial layers 14 and one base transparent layer 20 and one protective liner 28.

The sacrificial layers 14 a-n may be stacked upon each other. Preferably, the sacrificial layers may be generally coextensive with each other so that the stack of sacrificial layers 14 a-n appear to be a single film. As discussed above, in order to assist in the peeling of only the top most sacrificial layer 14 while leaving the lower sacrificial layers 14 in place, the adhesive peel strength may be adjusted to be the weakest at the top most sacrificial layer and stronger as the top most sacrificial layer is peel away. Alternatively, or additionally, tabs 56 which are shown in FIG. 9 may be formed as part of the sacrificial layers 14. Each of the sacrificial layers 14 a-n may be formed with the tab 56 that extends outward as shown in FIG. 9. No adhesive is formed on the area of the tab 56. Each of the tabs 56 may be offset or staggered with the tabs 56 of the other sacrificial layers so that the user can pull the tab 56 of the then top most sacrificial layer at the time to peel off the top most sacrificial layer 14. Other tabbing systems known in the art may be incorporated such as those shown and described in relation to Japanese Kokai Patent Publication Number 4-314537 and U.S. Pat. No. 6,777,055.

Additionally or alternatively, a peel assist system shown in FIGS. 10-11B may be incorporated into the shield 10, 10 a. By way of example and not limitation, a corner of the shield 10, 10 a may have a stair step configuration. Although the upper left corner of the shield 10, 10 a is shown as having the stair step configuration, any of the other corners, upper right, lower left and/or right corners may have the stair step configuration. A first configuration of the stair step is shown in FIG. 11A. Sacrificial layers 14 may be peeled off layer by layer. The top most sacrificial layer 14 may be peeled off with the aid of a sharp blade or fingernail that digs between the first and second top most layers 14 as shown by arrow 62 to initiate peeling of the top most layer 14. FIG. 11B illustrates a second configuration of the stair step configuration. The stair step configuration is reverse compared to the stair step configuration shown in FIG. 11A. The user may lift the top most layer 14 with his or her finger since the top most layer 14 extends over the rest of the stack of layers 14. The shield 10, 10 a has been shown generically attached to the electronic device 38 for the purposes of clarification. However, any of the attachment methods discussed herein may be implemented in the shield 10, 10 a embodiments shown in FIGS. 10-11B.

Certain embodiments of the shield 10 above were directed to a multi-layer shield 10. Either the base transparent layer 20 was adhered to a lower protective layer 28 and/or one or more sacrificial layers 14 a-n. These layers 20, 28, 14 a-n are each adhered to each other. The layers 20, 28, 14 a-n and the adhesive may absorb impact shock caused when the electronic device 38 is dropped or the touch sensitive screen 12 hits a solid object. The impact is reduced at each adhesive interface where the softer adhesive may yield and spread out the impact force laterally instead of proceeding directly into the glass of the touch sensitive screen. Additionally, the stacked construction of the shield 10 and the sacrificial layers 14 a-n retain the flexibility or bendability of the layers to maintain the tactile response for the touch sensitive screen.

Preferably, the base transparent layer 20, protective layer 28, and sacrificial layers 14 are fabricated from biaxially oriented polyethelene terephalate material (boPET).

Referring back to FIG. 1, the various embodiments of the shield and sacrificial layers disclosed herein may be enlarged to cover the front surface of the electronic device 38. An example of the enlarged shield is shown in FIG. 1 in hidden lines. Cutouts 58 may be made through the shield to allow for physical buttons and speakers on the electronic device 38.

In lieu of the opaque annular film 52, it is also contemplated that the base transparent layer 20, 20 a may have an opaque printed border which serves the same function as the opaque annular film 52. The opaque border on the base transparent layer 20, 20 a may be formed by a screen printing, etc. or other methods known in the art. It is also contemplated that the adhesive 26, 26 a, 26 b, 54 may be colored so as to be opaque and hide the air bubbles 60.

The above description is given by way of example, and not limitation. Given the above disclosure, one skilled in the art could devise variations that are within the scope and spirit of the invention disclosed herein, including various ways of forming the slit for the annular ring. Further, the various features of the embodiments disclosed herein can be used alone, or in varying combinations with each other and are not intended to be limited to the specific combination described herein. Thus, the scope of the claims is not to be limited by the illustrated embodiments.

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Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Mar 19, 2015ASAssignment
Owner name: RACING OPTICS, INC., NEVADA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:WILSON, STEPHEN S.;WILSON, BART;WILSON, SETH;REEL/FRAME:035210/0086
Effective date: 20100513
Jul 26, 2016IPRAia trial proceeding filed before the patent and appeal board: inter partes review
Free format text: TRIAL NO: IPR2016-01164
Opponent name: AEVOE CORP.
Effective date: 20160621